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About Little Havana Domino Park
Maximo Gomez Domino Park (named after a revolutionary who fought against the Spanish in Cuba in the early 1900’s) is an import meeting place in Little Havana for the Cuban community. The park is set up with a number of domino and chess tables for the many clubs that come to play here on a daily basis.
The Domino Park was built back in 1976 to provide a meeting place for everyone living on Calle Ocho. Originally, everyone would get together across from the Tower Theatre. A few guys would go around and rig up some lighting anticipating the dark night ahead. Some old ragged tables would get hunted down within the neighborhood. Then, it was game time!
The mostly Cuban population in Little Havana would get together and play dominos the same way as they did back in the old country. Stories from back in Cuba would get passed down to the younger generation as everyone just sat around and played a good old game of dominos.
It wasn’t long before the city of Miami realized the benefit of such a meeting place. In 1983 they budgeted $115,000 to add a few key pieces of architecture to the area. Two roofs were built over designated areas to help protect everyone from the hot sun and shield the players from the rain as well.
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New restrooms were added on the grounds to help with the problem of so many males urinating outside surrounding the domino playing area (urine and hot Miami sun do not make a good match).
The most important part of this renovation was to focus on bringing a little part of home back to the people in Little Havana. In the old days back in Cuba, the position of the tables played an important role in domino play. Tables were always set pointing towards the nearest corner to allow for the maximum amount of tables to be squeezed into the area. The same basic design has been carried over to the Domino Park as well.
Over the past 20 years or so the Domino Park has acquired its own domino club, the Circulo de Santiago de Cuba. This social club is open to all people that come from the city of Santiago de Cuba. They normally get together and play every Wednesday and Friday night from 7p.m. until 12a.m. and then again on Saturday from 7p.m. until 2a.m.
The women have even started their own games on the weekends at Maximo Gomez Domino Park. They have set up their own little place away from the domino tables to play games of Continental and Canasta on Friday and Saturday nights.